Home Cooking on a Dime

1213976240We’re all aware that a recession is upon us. It’s affected the real estate we buy and (can’t) sell, the gas we pump into our cars, and alas, the already overpriced food we sling into our reusable shopping bags at Whole Foods. Somehow, that weekly ritual of discreetly tossing rotted bags of lettuce and freezer-burned chicken into the community trash receptacle on my floor seems like an even bigger waste now than when I was paying a few dollars less for groceries.

Now I’m trying (the operative word being trying) a different approach to my weekend supermarket shopping. I’ll deem it the “One Meat Per Week” theory, otherwise known as the idea that you can create multiple meals using the same package of protein all week long.

I heard about it a while back while watching the Food Network’s Robin Miller, who popularized the concept by showing viewers that yes, one extra large slab of pork slow cooked on Sunday can actually morph into a different meal every day of the week thereafter. She touted the idea as a convenience for the time-strapped, but it’s taken on even more meaning now that ordering sandwiches in on weeknights often feels like an extravagance.

In my kitchen, it’s all about the ground turkey. Not to plug the dreaded Hamburger Helper, but one pound and one pan really can work wonders. Granted, I only cook for me, but I’ve found that a package of fresh meat (usually under $5) can easily last for three dinners.

Consider the breakdown: Monday, I sauté ground turkey with a dollop of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon and smoked paprika, then pile it atop a hefty piece of toasted garlic naan dressed up with garlic hummus, feta cheese, cucumbers, and lettuce.

Tuesday, I form a patty mixed with breadcrumbs and poultry seasoning, cook it up on the grill pan, and top it with melted Gouda and sautéed slices of baby portobello mushrooms.

Wednesday, it’s mini meatballs and fettuccine in a sauce made from canned tomatoes and a touch of cream. It’s an inexact science that’s easy, economical, and keeps my home cooked dinners warm and me (not my freezer-burn packages of steak) very, very cool.